7yo boy woes

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-03-2004
7yo boy woes
10
Thu, 06-28-2007 - 3:25pm

Hey all, this is my first time posting over on this board. To give you a bit of background, I have a 7 year old son, a 2 1/2 year old daughter, and a unknown gendered baby coming up in the middle of September.

My son has been a constant worry to my husband and I for quite some time now. I have this feeling that something has to be wrong with him, but I don't know what. He is quite intelligent in reading and math (reading books intended for 9-12 year olds, and doing some 2nd and 3rd grade math), but is absolutely horrible in anything that requires physical activity, writing, art, and so forth.

His writing improved a little bit during 1st grade, but it's still very hard to read a lot of his letters, and it's extremely sloppy. He completely refused to do any push-ups for gym class (he is excited to do those at home if someone mentions them though!), and technically failed 1st grade gym because of this. He is absolutely uncreative and will only draw pictures if someone tells him what to draw and where to draw it, and will only write things if given a topic and told what is expected about that topic. If you ask him to draw or write something on his own, he'll stare at the paper and just walk away (or scribble before walking away).

His playing mannerisms are very odd when I compare it to what I've seen in children his age, a bit older, and younger. Most of the time, he would rather sit somewhere and watch whatever my husband and I, and sometimes even his sister, are doing. If we ask him to find something to do, he'll pick up a toy and just turn it over and over. He has TONS of toys, art stuff, board games, etc etc, so it's not like there's nothing to do! We do limit both of their TV intake (usually only 1-3 hours/day max, sometimes an extra movie before bed, too), and limit their exposure to electronic toys (ie: gamecube, leapster, etc).

The big reason we limit our children so much is because of my son. If you let him play the GameCube, for example, and don't tell him what time he is to be done with it, he will literally sit there for 12+ hours, without eating if not forced to, not using the bathroom (has even soiled himself a couple years back due to this) unless reminded, not getting up to walk around, not noticing if someone gets injured unless they fall on them (and then we're lucky if he'd do more than just push them off if that were the case)... basically, completely oblivious of the world around him, and even of his own bodily needs. The same happens while watching TV, playing the Leapster, playing on the computer, etc. If my husband or I play a computer game, he will be absolutely glued to watching it, and make every excuse to stick around. The only time he's interested in conventional toys is if he thinks it'll earn him extra TV/gaming time.

Am I describing normal behavior for some 7yos? I honestly cannot think of any other children that are completely uncreative and only care about electronic stimulation. Am I worrying too much, or is this something I should bring up to a doctor? We've tried letting him have free reign (allowed to game and watch TV whenever he wanted) in order to see if it burned that desire out of him, but it didn't work--he'd eat breakfast, play until we forced him to go eat lunch, then play until we forced him to eat his dinner, and we had to keep asking if he needed to go to the bathroom whenever we saw him start grabbing that area to hold it in. After a few weeks of that (late Dec/early Jan was the most recent attempt) we gave up.

If you got this far, thanks for reading. :) Any input would be appreciated!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-08-2005
In reply to: saroiny
Fri, 06-29-2007 - 11:40am

HI there, I'm new here too...You are the first post I have read.

Lisa S.  

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
In reply to: saroiny
Tue, 07-10-2007 - 10:33pm

It sounds like you have a very "Left Brain" Child! Yay- a future engineer or scientist!
I'm sure there are a ton of books on the subject- it describes someone who is logical, analytical, observant and highly intelligent. They think in a very ordered way and may not understand things the way the other kids do- so he might not see the point of a 'silly game'.
I don't know that you could force him to be artistic. You said if you tell him what to draw, he can, but he won't think it up on his own. He can learn to appreciate art or the process of art w/o having to be the most creative. You said he likes to watch other people- he learns by observing. He is probably driven to understand complicated things- like video games- and they give him the challenge he needs. I think this sounds like something to embrace, not worry about.

He has an ability to intensely focus on things. Find ways to understand this and use it to help him. Maybe he could try learning a foreign language instead of so-called 'pointless' video games. He is at a good age for it. There are videos and video games for learning languages I think. Search out some scientific books or magazines for him to read. Writing may never be a priority or strong point of his. If he gets a teacher who can be ok with that-yay. You may have to be his advocate at school, depending on the curriculum or the teacher as they can favor one way or another and it seems schools favor the more creative at elementary levels.

Does he have any friends he just hangs out with or plays? It may take a longer while to find someone with similar interests. Try signing him up for a computer camp or science camp of some sort. Check out your local college- they sometimes offer things in the summer, or even in the fall, something he could go to on a Saturday. As long as no one (no one QUALIFIED to make the judgement that is!) thinks he is "different" in an autistic way, it is probably just who he is. Help him be the best "him" he can be and hopefully you and your husband can adjust to that and be happy/comfortable with it- let another sibling be the sports star.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-01-1999
In reply to: saroiny
Fri, 07-13-2007 - 10:18am

I don't know that he's totally "normal" but he shares a lot of traits with my own son who is 6 and going into 2nd grade in the fall. I wonder if this may all stem from his intellect. I have 2 gifted children and gifted children can be quirky. They can also be totally asynchonis in their development having abilities far advanced but then their normal behavior seems immature in comparrison.

You didn't mention how he does with other children or if he changes in group settings or anytime he has direct interaction. I ask because my own son is extremely extroverted. He's not neccessarily outgoing (common misconception.) In fact, he can be overly cautious and shy in groups (but you can tell he's energized, he'll bounce, become hyper, start running at the mouth to us, ect.) When at home, if someone isn't directly interacting with him, he vegetates. He does not play with toys alone. He literally will stare at us or stare at the ceiling. However, if you play with him, he springs to life. Thankfully, we have an older daughter who interacts with his a great deal. We do not have a game system for the same reason you mentioned. His need for interaction is so great that he'll use the games as a replacement for people and it's not healthy. We deal with this by doing our best to meet his social needs. We sign him up for camps in the summer and on breaks (REALLY difficult times for us at home.) I do my best to get playdates going and such. I involve him in household activities heavily. He has an intense desire to be useful. His crowning glory was helping daddy fix the sprinkler system (he learned all the joint names, dug trenches, learned how to turn the main water on and off, ect.) Of course, hard because the rest of us are total introverts happy to sit and read alone for hours on end.

DS also has writing problems. He only settled on a hand last year and while there has been improvement. It's only sometimes legible. We found out he has dysgraphia during his occupational therapy (he has multiple sensory issues and an over-active gag reflex.) We have used the handwriting without tears program at home and it really helped. Still, barely legible but far better than it had been before.

We put DS in tae kwon do to help his akwardness. It's ideal because it's an individual sport learned WITH other kids. He's not the greatest but he enjoys it and it's built his physical confidence. Plus, the instructor really knows how to motivate the kids in a positive manner.

It doesn't hurt to have him evaluated if you are worried about aspergers or anything like that. However, he may just be a very smart and quirky kid that needs a lot of interaction and stimulus.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2004
In reply to: saroiny
Fri, 07-13-2007 - 7:09pm

Hello,

I'm new here as well. I have a newly 8 year old son going in to the 3rd grade. An almost 7 year old son going into the second grade, and an almost 2 year old daughter.

What you have described doesn't sound to completely different than my either of my sons. They are both very bright boys who have been reading far about the grade level since before kindergarten and they are both recieving "challenge" work in math. They both had a great deal of difficulty in handwriting/printing. In fact my almost 7 year old hadn't even really figured out what hand he was until the end of his kindergarten year... he had a lot of problems with his grip, etc. It has come a long way over the course of a year and I am very proud of them both... but their printing still is far below the level of most of their peers. It might be that because your son is bright he might not be able to get his thoughts and ideas onto paper fast enough and thus doesn't bother... I am convinced that this is true for both my boys.

They are also lacking in their gross motor development as well. Regardless of how much time we have taken neither has learned how to ride a bike unassisted, or tie shoes laces, and they just seem all around uncoordinated. They have both started swimming lessons and it has seemed to make a great deal of improvements in their confidence in terms of their physical abilities. They get to socialize with kids... but it's not competitive.

Sometimes bright kids are so used to having things come easy to them that the prospect of actually having to "try" is simply overwhelming and he might need your support until he has decided that it is something that he is capable of doing.

Both boys would also play on the playstation and the computer forever and a day if I let them and I simply have had to put a time limit on it. I set a timer for an hour and when it goes off they're off and if their not and decide to cause a fuss they lose their video/computer privledges for the next day (or longer depending on their response). I am very consistent about this and they have learned that there are no negotiations when it comes to the time limit.

hth.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-03-2004
In reply to: saroiny
Sat, 07-14-2007 - 5:33pm

Thanks for replying, everyone. After reading your responses, I think you're all correct that it may just be his logical frame of mind and possible brightness getting in the way of normal play. It's hard to accept the way he is, but knowing that other children behave similar to him, too, makes it a lot easier. He thinks we're "mean and unfair" about regulating his time with the T.V., etc, but I know he can't thrive on electronics.

Someone had asked about friends; he is the type of kid who tries to get along with everyone, but I can't say whether or not anyone is a true friend of his or not yet. During the summer he mostly hangs out at home, and on rare occasions decides to go play with another 7-year-old that lives a block away. What we noticed about his interaction with other children is that he usually pretends to be interested in what they are, acts as they do, and even will go so far as to dumb himself down so that he assimilates better in a crowd with them (such as suddenly pretending he doesn't know how to do addition or read, depending on which child is around and what their weakness is).

I guess that makes him a follower very much more than a leader. He'll intervene with other children to try and "resolve" issues, which gets to the point of every teacher, from preschool through 1st grade thus far, commenting that he has a tendancy to be a busy-body. Hopefully he grows out of that. ;)

We try to encourage his enjoyment of reading, and if we give him a task like "build a castle with lego", then he'll put his heart into it. I agree that children such as he just need some direction, and eventually I think (and hope!!!) that they'll learn to regulate themselves. :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-01-1999
In reply to: saroiny
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 9:58am

Ahh, your son is even more like mine than I'd origionally thought. Mine also trys very hard to be nice to everyone but lacks a *best* friend. He has an over-zealous sense of justice and it gets him in trouble (nags the other kids about not following school rules and such.) He also dumbs down or tries to "blend in" when with some kids. Fortunately, we moved him into a specialized school with LOTS of really brilliant kids and so he doesn't have reason to hide abilities. If your son is going through such lengths to make other kids comfortable, I'd say your not looking at any sort of autism or asperger syndromes (often associated with lack of creativity.)

Try and remember that while little kids play act to stimulate their imagination, older kids read to accomplish the same thing. Your son is further developed in reading that most kids his age so he's able to fulfill his playacting requirements through books.

Don't assume he's a follower. The bossy child knows nothing of true leadership. They want what is best for themselves. The child that makes choices based on what is best for the whole group is the kid who understands leadership. My oldest really emerged as a leader around 9-years-old when those types of opportunities presented themselves. She's regularly put in leadership position by her peers because they know she will take them into consideration. Who wants a leader that makes decisions based on what THEY want with no reguard or consideration to others?

I encourage you to explore the gifted child board here at ivillage. You don't need test results to participate and you will likely see your son in a lot of the posts. Hoagies site for gifted children also has lots of articles and resources that might help you understand smart kids and all the various quirks they can have.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
In reply to: saroiny
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 3:02pm

Hi, and welcome!!! My son is very similar to what you describe but I have to say he comes by it honestly! LOL!!!!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
In reply to: saroiny
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 3:21pm

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Hi, Lisa! It's great to have you join in!!!!


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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
In reply to: saroiny
Sun, 07-15-2007 - 3:23pm

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Welcome to the board!!!

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-29-2007
In reply to: saroiny
Wed, 08-29-2007 - 3:06pm
You are right to reach out. Call the pediatrician's office for an appointment. They can evaluate his true needs and guide you to the right resources and information.